From the AVMA; Funding Announced; The Veterinary Community

From the AVMA

HOD approves veal calf housing policy, acts on range of proposals

The AVMA has adopted a policy calling for veal calf housing systems that allow animals greater freedom of movement.

At its regular session in New Orleans July 19-20, the AVMA House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved Resolution 16, which states the AVMA “supports a change in veal husbandry practices that severely restrict movement, to housing systems that allow for greater freedom of movement without compromising their health or welfare.”

The House Advisory Committee submitted Resolution 16, which noted an AVMA policy adopted in 2005 recognizes that veal calf production is well-established, can be humane, and can ensure the welfare of calves. In that policy, veterinarians and veal calf producers are encouraged to cooperate to provide management and housing systems that, among other things, permit calves to stretch, stand, and lie down comfortably, the resolution stated in its background.

Resolution 14 was submitted by petition and directed the AVMA to support group housing systems rather than individual calf crates. Delegates referred the measure to the Animal Welfare Committee, which is conducting a review of the scientific literature concerning veal calf housing systems.

Delegates voted down two resolutions related to veterinary students submitted by the California VMA. Resolution 1 would have eliminated the AVMA vice presidency. The vice president is one of the Association's liaisons to the Student AVMA and student chapters and is a voting member of the Executive Board. Delegates also disapproved Resolution 5, which would have created a Student Affairs Division within the AVMA. It should be noted that within the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division is a student affairs department through which visits and presentations by the AVMA vice president or senior division staff to students at all veterinary schools and colleges with representation in the SAVMA House of Delegates are coordinated to occur at least annually.

Resolution 4, submitted by the HAC, was passed. The resolution directed the AVMA to increase its involvement with veterinary students and in its background statement suggested a number of ways of accomplishing this goal.

An ovation by the delegates followed their approval of Resolution 17, calling for the AVMA to actively promote the implementation of linking companion animal databases.

Resolution 8 received a 100 percent vote of approval. It resolves that the HOD support identification of livestock to enable trace back and trace forward of animals for disease control and eradication programs.

The HOD approved Resolution 7 encouraging the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine to strictly enforce its rules prohibiting drug compounding that produces unapproved mimics of commercially available FDA-approved drugs, to ensure the health and welfare of animals and the public. It is not targeted at traditional patient-specific compounding.

The HOD strongly approved Resolution 9, mandating the AVMA to engage in enhanced collaboration and communication with the health sciences professions and their respective associations working locally, nationally, and globally among multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.

With approval of Resolution 6, the AVMA will develop a Model Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for the Domestic Travel of Companion Animals.

The HOD unanimously approved Resolution 3, encouraging the delegates, alternate delegates, and principal and constituent allied veterinary organizations represented in the HOD to engage in grassroots support for funding of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank.

Resolution 13 was approved after being amended to state that the Executive Board encourages, rather than commissions, the National Commission on Veterinary Economic issues to (1) study economic factors impacting veterinarians in federal and state public practice and academia, including salaries and benefits, recruitment, retention, and professional opportunities, (2) evaluate how these factors compare with allied health professions, and how they affect allied professions, and (3) make recommendations on how to close any gaps that exist and prevent them from growing.

To adequately enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the AVMA will encourage the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service to add more veterinary positions and hire more veterinarians, as requested in Resolution 2, which the HOD approved.

Resolution 11 received a strong vote of approval. It calls for the AVMA to place top priority on proposing and advocating for passage of legislation to provide equal pay for veterinarians and physicians carrying out equal work in the federal government, with regard to base salary and special pay; to support state VMAs pursuing equity in pay for public practice veterinarians; and to work with other organizations to accomplish these goals.

The HOD disapproved Resolution 12, which proposed that the AVMA adopt an official position to lead the initiative to promote equal pay for veterinarians and physicians doing equal work, as part of the One Health Initiative's mandate.

Resolution 10 was also disapproved. It called for the AVMA to actively promote evidence-based research on canine influenza virus and its potential effects on animal and human health. Concern over the overall lack of funding for health research dedicated to companion animals and horses was a motivating factor for the resolution. In that regard, an update in the HOD reference committee about progress on the AVMA-initiated Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research was well-received. On the HOD floor, Dr. John Clifford of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited a concern of the APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics about lack of evidence that canine influenza virus is causing disease in dogs.

AVMF helps animal shelters, announces new leader in New Orleans

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation reached out to animal shelters and announced a new director in New Orleans before the 145th AVMA Annual Convention in the city even began.

On July 17 and 18, dozens of convention attendees started off their trip by helping rehabilitate four local animal shelters. The AVMF arranged the project with sponsorship from Bayer Animal Health, Hill's Pet Nutrition, and Sherwin Williams. The goal was to put the Veterinarian's Oath in action by combining tourism with volunteerism in an area still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Veterinarians, veterinary students, family members, and other conventioneers who volunteered at a shelter in Plaquemines Parish spent their time painting, cleaning, replacing ceiling tiles, tackling various repairs, and moving animals from room to room as necessary. This year's voluntourism project also extended to animal shelters in Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. John parishes.

Lisa Tommelein, AVMF development director, said the AVMF plans to organize another voluntourism project for next year's convention in Seattle.

The AVMF also has hired a new director, Michael W. Cathey, who has had a long career as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations. Dr. Robert E. “Bud” Hertzog, AVMF chair, announced the appointment July 18 to the AVMA House of Delegates.

Dr. Hertzog noted that Cathey grew up on a farm in Oklahoma and spent 17 years working for the Boy Scouts of America. During those years, Cathey moved from Oklahoma to Colorado to the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. He eventually became the Boy Scouts' director of major gifts and planned giving for the D.C. area.

After a brief stint in 2002 as director of development for the American Medical Association Foundation, Cathey became executive director of development for the National Safety Council. The council, which has headquarters near Chicago, has the mission of preventing accidental injuries and deaths.

Luminaries honored at AVMA convention

Dr. Peter F. Haynes, dean of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, was presented the 2008 AVMA Award during the Hill's Opening Session of the AVMA Annual Convention, July 19. The Association's highest honor, the award recognizes distinguished contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations.

The following individuals also received awards during the opening session:

  • Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award—Dr. Jane R. Shaw, assistant professor of veterinary communication and the director of the Argus Institute at Colorado State University

  • Meritorious Service Award—Dr. Theodore B. Robinson, Richboro, Pa.

  • AVMA President's Award—Dr. Peter Eyre, dean emeritus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. John L. Noordsy, Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Darlene M. Verbelia, executive assistant to AVMA Executive Vice President W. Ron DeHaven

Awards presented during the President's Installation Luncheon July 22 were as follows:

  • Animal Welfare Award—Dr. Lila T. Miller, vice president of Veterinary Outreach for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

  • Charles River Prize—Dr. Stephen W. Barthold, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary and Medical Pathology at the University of California-Davis

  • Karl F Meyer—James H. Steele Gold Head Cane Award—Rear Adm. William S. Stokes, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service

  • Lifetime Excellence in Research Award—Dr. Charles C. Capen, Westerville, Ohio, posthumously

  • Public Service Award—Dr. Daniel E. Lafontaine, director of the South Carolina Meat-Poultry Inspection Department and assistant state veterinarian for South Carolina

  • Humane Award—Sharon M. Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society

  • XII International Veterinary Congress Prize—Dr. Colin F. Burrows, chair of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida

  • Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award/Basic Sciences—Dr. Paul S. Maza, anatomy lecturer at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine

  • Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award/Clinical Sciences—Dr. John H. Rossmeisl Jr., assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

AVMA convention engages, educates, entertains

Veterinarians contributed to a community, learned about medical and professional issues, and enjoyed themselves all at once this year at the 145th AVMA Annual Convention, July 19-22 in New Orleans.

Attendees assisted in the area's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina through their tourist dollars and volunteer work. They participated in hundreds of continuing education sessions within dozens of concurrent tracks. They enjoyed special events at the convention center and headquarters hotel as well as numerous attractions in the surrounding neighborhoods, including the restaurants of the historic French Quarter.

The convention attracted 7,888 attendees. The total included 3,190 veterinarians, 509 veterinary students, and 341 veterinary technicians and technician students.

Hill's Pet Nutrition sponsored the Opening Session to kick off the convention. The keynote speaker was Cokie Roberts, a journalist for National Public Radio and ABC News. She told tales of family pets, her parents' political careers, the women who shaped the country, and her native New Orleans.

The convention featured about 600 speakers and more than 1,200 continuing education sessions. The CE program ran four days this year, rather than four and a half days, and offered eight 50-minute time blocks each day, rather than four 90-minute time blocks. Programming for veterinarians included interactive labs, skills workshops, practice tips, lunchtime learning, and sunrise CE.

The One Medicine CE track offered sessions every day this year relevant to the connections between veterinary and human medicine. Sessions covered subjects such as disease surveillance, pandemic influenza, food safety in a global market, and the interrelationships between pet and owner health.

Every night at the convention offered some form of entertainment. The musical group Lifehouse performed Saturday as part of the second annual Merial Concert Series. Sunday's Bayer Bayou Bash featured a Mardi Gras-style parade as well as jesters, jugglers, and artists. The veterinary colleges' alumni receptions were on Monday night, and comedian Rocky LaPorte performed Tuesday night for the Fort Dodge Final Fling.

Throughout the convention, the exhibit hall highlighted the latest products and services available to veterinary professionals. The hall showcased more than 300 exhibitors, including a wide variety of companies along with nonprofit organizations such as veterinary associations and government groups.

Attendees kept up with convention news and other topics of interest by reading the AVMA Annual Convention Daily News and watching the AVMA Convention News television program, which were available at the convention center and at certain hotels. Fort Dodge and Subaru of North America sponsored the daily TV show.

In Association business, Dr. James O. Cook of Lebanon, Ky., assumed the AVMA presidency, succeeding Dr. Gregory S. Hammer. The AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Larry R. Corry of Buford, Ga., as president-elect and Dr. Gary S. Brown of Princeton, W.V., as vice president. Dr. Larry M. Kornegay of Houston declared his candidacy for 2009-2010 president-elect, and Dr. Brown declared his candidacy for another term as vice president.

Board recommends winter elections for AVMA officers

The incoming Executive Board for 2008-2009, meeting for the first time July 23 in New Orleans, recommended that the House of Delegates shift elections for AVMA presidentelect and vice president ahead by six months to the HOD's regular winter session.

But first, the 2007-2008 board held its final meeting July 17. The outgoing board took the following actions:

  • • Appointed Dr. Grace F. Bransford of Mill Valley, Calif., to the AVMA Strategic Planning Committee, representing AVMA committees. She also serves on the AVMA Member Services Committee, representing private clinical practice.

  • • Approved affiliate membership for Mason V. Reichard, PhD. He is an assistant professor in the Veterinary Pathology Department at the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.

  • • Approved foreign travel to Cairo, Egypt, for Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA chief executive officer, to speak at the second Global Conference on Animal Welfare, Oct. 20-22.

Previously, during a June 30 electronic vote, the board appointed Dr. DeHaven as the delegate to the Vet 2011 Committee for planning World Veterinary Year—a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the world's first veterinary school, in France.

The 2008-2009 board convened July 23 to consider several agenda items, including the proposal to hold elections of AVMA officers six months before the officers' terms start each summer.

The incoming board recommended that the House Advisory Committee arrange to move elections to the HOD's regular winter session, starting in January 2009. Delegates would vote then for a president-elect and vice president—and, if necessary, a president.

New officers would still assume their duties at the conclusion of the subsequent AVMA convention. The six-month window between the elections and installation would simplify trip planning and reduce travel expenses for officers.

For the first round of elections under the system, candidates for office would have a six-month campaign period rather than a full year.

In keeping with the schedule change, the board also recommended that the HAC hold the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast during the HOD's regular winter session—for candidates who are standing for election one year later.

In other business, the board approved holding its June 2009 meeting in Las Vegas to allow members to visit the Oquendo Center. The new facility is a permanent site for administering the Clinical Proficiency Examination, the fourth and final step of the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates certification program.

The 2008-2009 board also welcomed two new members: Drs. Larry G. Dee of Hollywood, Fla., and Thomas F. Meyer of Vancouver, Wash.

Dr. Dee, a small animal practitioner, succeeds Dr. Larry R. Corry as District IV representative. District IV comprises Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico. Dr. Meyer, a mixed-animal practitioner, succeeds Dr. Richard E. Coon as District XI representative. District XI comprises Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

The incoming board elected Dr. David L. McCrystle, Healdsburg, Calif., as chair and Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, White Plains, N.Y., as vice chair.

Funding Announced

Hill's donates feline genome data to spur research

Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. announced July 20 the donation of its feline genome database to Morris Animal Foundation for the advancement of feline research.

In addition, Hill's has made a $1 million commitment to MAF, and a portion of the funds will be used to establish a Coalition for Feline Genomic Research. The coalition will use the genetic data to study biochemical differences between healthy and unhealthy cats.

The genetic data were the result of Hill's years-long investment in nutrigenomic technology for identifying ingredients that will enhance functional pet food products. The project yielded a wealth of feline genome sequence data with DNA samples from seven cats of various breeds and both sexes.

The DNA sequencing effort identified more than three million feline single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These SNPs are small deviations from the common feline DNA sequence that can be used as markers to track down genes responsible for genetic diseases.

Hill's donated its entire collection of SNPs to Morris to ensure the availability of the data to investigators who will use the collection in research advancing feline health. The data also provide researchers with a foundation for developing an SNP genotyping platform.

Cats and humans share 250 genetic diseases, so the donation could lead to discoveries affecting human health. “The domestic cat has served as a powerful model for hereditary human disease patterns and for numerous fatal infectious disease agents related to human pathogens,” said Dr. Gregg Dean, professor of immunopathology at North Carolina State University.

Since the canine genome was sequenced in 2005, the bulk of pet-related genetic research has focused on dogs. The feline genome was sequenced two years later, but research has lagged. The hope is the Hill's donation will jump-start the field.

The Veterinary Community

Ohio State names interim dean

The Ohio State University has appointed Dr. John A.E. Hubbell as interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, effective July 1. He takes over for Dr. Tom Rosol, who became special assistant to the university's senior vice president for research.

Dr. Hubbell teaches veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State's veterinary college and served previously as associate dean for academic affairs. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists. His research interests include anesthesia of horses immediately after exercise, pharmacology of anesthetic drugs, and veterinary education. He earned his veterinary degree from Ohio State in 1977.

Dr. Rosol had served as dean since 2005. He will continue teaching veterinary biosciences as well as conducting research within the Comprehensive Cancer Center.